A friend called my next chapter a bucket list. I feel too young for that. And yet I am aware of my mortality and that of my generation, of friends and relations who’ve had a scare or a sentence, are battling to remain with us or made peace with the inevitable, and are grateful for every day. I want to cram in everything and do it on my own terms. Often I tell friends, I only do what I want, because I choose it – my doings are exactly what I want to be doing, whether it’s cleaning the house or engaging in a politics, meeting a friend or applying for a job.
Tomorrow I drive away in my Highlander with a tent and a bike, for 58 days. I’d considered something more exotic for my 60th birthday – maybe New Zealand (this weekend we hosted a Kiwi who landed in America two days ago at the start of her 10-month bicycling tour across our country). But we’re having such an interesting time in America, and there’s much of it I haven’t seen, or haven’t seen closely enough. Along the way, I’ll chat with people from all over the country and the world, and maybe get a better sense of what they think about this political condition we have generated, and whether it affects the way they think about citizenship, or being human.
I’ve never been to Big Bend National Park, despite being a Texas native. Or Yosemite. Or Seattle, which Laurie will fly out to explore with me. I’ve never walked on the bottom of the Grand Canyon, though I’ve walked off the rim twice. I’ve wanted to return to Moab since 1998, when the uranium mines and the smelters were still a presence. Eight years ago, when I biked past Hebgen Lake in Montana on my way to Yellowstone, I promised I would return there to camp. I get to see the Badlands and probably Toronto and Niagara Falls. Except for my sister’s near Lake Elsinore, Yosemite and Seattle, the west coast is unplanned. The northern tier after Yellowstone is no more than an idea.
By my return it will be the last day of spring. On the summer solstice, at the moment I’ll have had 60 years on the planet, I expect to be on my customary perch, watching the sun rise at the Lincoln Memorial.
People have asked me: Are you going to post along the way? Yeah, and how much or often I don’t have a sense. The page is an old home for travels, so you may want to subscribe.